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New building requirements for single sex toilets

The government is pushing ahead with plans to reverse gender-neutral toilets as part of its commitment and wider approach to protect and enhance single sex spaces.

The proposed changes will mean all new non-domestic public and private buildings and places undertaking major refurbishment in England, will be required to provide separate single-sex toilets for women and men and/or a self-contained, private toilet as a minimum.

The proposals are a result of a call for evidence on increasing the accessibility of toilets for men and women, which gathered over 17,000 responses and represented a full range of views – generally calling for “greater consideration in the range of toilets to preserve dignity, access, equality, and privacy for all”.

The changes will be made through building regulations and guidance. In addition to single sex toilets becoming the default and minimum, the guidelines will encourage the consideration of self-contained toilets, which are a fully enclosed toilet room with a wash hand basin for individual use.

The aim of the new requirements will ensure that:

  • separate single-sex toilets facilities are provided for men and women and/or
  • self-contained, private toilets are provided where space allows to ensure privacy and safety
  • mixed sex shared facilities are not an option, except when lack of space allows only a single toilet

Kemi Badenoch, Minister for Women and Equalities, said: “It is important that everybody has privacy and dignity when using public facilities. Yet the move towards ‘gender neutral’ toilets has removed this fundamental right for women and girls.

“These proposals will ensure every new building in England is required to provide separate male and female or unisex facilities, and publish guidance to explain the difference, protecting the dignity, privacy and safety of all.”

A new short technical consultation to shape the changes has opened and will close on 8 October 2023.



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